When “The Flash” premiered back in 2014, it changed the game for superheroes on television. It broke boundaries for how engaging a comic book-based show could be by giving us thoroughly-developed characters, a good dose of exciting action, and a brilliantly-conceived arc that made you want to jump right into the next episode the second one was over. It was so well done in fact, that it even managed to surpass most of its big budget theatrical counterparts (i.e. the decent films that mainly concentrate on giving you the biggest bang for your buck). Now, at last, we’ve finally come to the highly-anticipated second season, which all fans have hoped would continue the show’s incredible run, and therefore keeping it at the very top of the must-watch pile. But with such a high level of quality, would the showrunners be able to keep up?
Season two begins with life getting back to normal in Central City, slowly showing us in flashbacks how Barry Allen/The Flash (Grant Gustin) was able to help save the city from the black hole that opened at the end of the previous season. It’s rather hard for Barry though, as Ronnie (Robbie Amell) was killed in the process, causing him to distance himself from everyone in an effort to keep them safe, while he continues to fight crime. This doesn’t last long however, as Joe (Jesse L. Martin), Iris (Candice Patton), Cisco (Carlos Valdes), and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) all force him to realize that they work best as a team.
Shortly after, a mysterious visitor by the name of Jay Garrick (Teddy Sears) shows up at STAR Labs to warn them of an evil speedster known as “Zoom,” who has been using portals leading to another Earth to send Meta-Humans after The Flash. Zoom’s main goal is to be the fastest man alive, which means taking Barry’s speed away from him. To help stop Zoom in this pursuit, the team will not only have to fight off the onslaught of baddies that he sends over from “Earth 2,” but they’ll also have to come up with a way for Barry to become faster than ever if he’s to have even a chance of beating his new arch-nemesis. Luckily, in that regard, they end up getting help from a rather unexpected source.
Indeed, the anticipation for this second season was palpable, which made it a little strange (and a little ironic) that the showrunners chose to start it off a bit slower than they had before. It’s fully expected to have an episode to ease back into the show, particularly after such a massive disaster that nearly destroyed the city, but this actually goes on for several episodes. It still manages to tell a decent and somewhat exciting story, particularly once it introduces that main villain of the season, but it slowly becomes more clear as the first half of the season goes on that there’s something not quite right with the show, something that you can put your finger on rather easily once you’re a few episodes in.
That something, as it turns out, is one of the side stories that involves Iris’ mother returning to Central City in an attempt to reconnect with her before she dies, with the additional news of Iris having a brother she never knew existed. No doubt the showrunners meant well with this storyline, hoping to use it as a way to add a little more emotion to the show, as well as an attempt to involve Iris and Joe a little more (they are on the sidelines a lot, after all), but it ends up backfiring in a major way in that, every time the show shifts back to this storyline (which takes up a good portion of the first half of the season), it feels as though everything stops completely, putting the main plot of the show on hiatus so that it can focus on a story that has nothing to do with anything. To put it another way, this entire storyline could have been lifted, and it wouldn’t have changed a thing, except that the show would have flowed better, instead of dragging along every time it lost focus from the main plot.
Fortunately for fans, it would appear that the folks in charge realized this, as when it comes to the second half of the season, this storyline is almost entirely done away with, leaving behind only the minor character of Iris’s brother/Joe’s son, Wally (Keiynan Lonsdale), in its wake. With this put aside at last, the show finally becomes free to focus on what it should have been concentrating on all along, the main story and characters. It immediately begins to improve as it delves more into the mystery of Earth 2, Zoom’s true identity, and how our heroes are going to stop him. In short, it becomes much more like the show we all remember from that first glorious season, where just about everything was top-notch from one end to the other.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t have any problems though. It certainly becomes more compelling at this point, but when it comes to the last few episodes, there was a little more to be desired. Whereas last season, the finale had everyone on the edge of their seat, this season, the show just kind of fizzles out to a conclusion that’s merely satisfactory. To expand upon that, we get a final confrontation that’s mostly “ho-hum,” including a conclusion that comes off as a bit lazy, and this is on top of finally getting the answer to a mystery that ends up not really being worth the wait. When it comes to the ending, a better job certainly could have been done, but at the very least, it does manage to wrap everything up, paving the way for what should be a pretty interesting season three given the final scene in the last episode.
Taking a look at the entire season, there’s no doubt that it did have a few more problems than the previous season had, but the positives still far outweigh the negatives. When it’s actually focusing on the main plot, the show is very successful, especially when it comes to the second half of the season, delivering a compelling arc along with the same great characters we’ve come to know and love (plus a few new ones as well). Season two may be a step down from what had been a brilliant debut, but when it comes right to it, it still manages to deliver where it counts. 3/4 stars.
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